Monday, February 22, 2010
#20 Running free with the Fleet Foxes
North America is in the midst of a rock rebellion. The plasticizing of rock that has been going on over the last twenty years is now finally receding. Folk Rock is seeing a huge reemergence as people yearn for a rock that is stripped down and back to basics. The kind of music that a group of friends would make sitting around a campfire on a summer's night. The Fleet Foxes are one of the groups at the forefront of this resurgence. The band had its beginnings in the early 2000's at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle. Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset became close friends in high school through their shared musical interests and soon began playing together. Pecknold moved into songwriting, singing and playing guitar, while Skjelset turned his efforts to playing lead guitar.They began crafting a truly unique blend of folk rock infused with catchy pop sounds and marked by their use of beautiful vocal harmonies.
After high school the band began making their rounds in Seattle, gradually getting more notice from the local press. It soon became evident that Pecknold in particular was oozing talent from every pore; his songwriting is both fresh and nostalgic. Influences from bands like CSNY and the Beach Boys, as well as artists like Bob Dylan, are readily audible in his songs but invigoratingly inventive in the stale market of rock. Interestingly enough the band did not get much notice and slowly gathered their audience mostly from word of mouth.In late 2007 when their songs on Myspace began getting over 250,000 hits they finally began to catch the attention of record companies and were signed to a deal in spite of not having recorded much material at that point. They released an e.p. entitled Sun Giant and began touring larger circuits. They gained more notoriety in Europe than in North America through their tours. The e.p. was well received by critics and fans alike but the band stated they weren't happy with it as it didn't represent their true ambitions in regards to their musical direction.
After the addition of Craig Curran (bass, guitars, vocals), Nicholas Peterson (drums, percussion) and Casey Wescott (keyboards, vocals), the band returned to the studio to release their first full album. The self titled debut Fleet Foxes was released June 3, 2008 and became one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. One listen of this album is all it takes to get into this terrific Seattle band. Skye Skjelset's guitar weaves its way through the songs with the talent and grace of someone decades older, while drummer Nicholas Peterson does a pretty good job of conjuring up Levon Helm. His rhythm and beats keep it all in check, allowing the band to explore at their free will but able at a moment's notice to bring it all back home. Casey Wescott's wonderful piano rhythms run through tracks like "Blue Ridge Mountains", giving the album that extra something. Above it all, Fleet Foxes' harmonies remain the most instantly recognizable aspect of their music, and they've clearly written and arranged these songs to showcase their amazing shared vocals.
This group is off to a fantastic start and deserve the good press they are getting. Give them a listen to and judge for yourself!
-Robin Pecknold has spoke of his support for online file-sharing and the positive effect he believes it to have on music, both as an art form and as an industry. I totally respect and agree with this, especially since it's online music forms like on myspace that have launched him to fame.
-I love that the band lists their wikipedia page as their official website.
-The band will be releasing their second album later this year. Stay tuned for more info.
Dig this track; t is called "White Winter Hymnal" and is a fantastic. You can hear the influence of bands like the Byrds and Neil Young. Influences aside, it has a really unique feel to it that I really dig and I hope you do as well.